Trading in Nine Lives for Irish Silver

It occurred to me that this St. Patrick’s Day will be the ninth installment of The Irish Post. Which seems more impossible than Kelly Ripa’s love life. And as remarkable a thing as it is, and will be, I ain’t gonna lie. I’m already looking forward to next year.

Irish Post X. 

That is carazy with a capital Kong. It’s a hot Prada enchilada served up on a regatta in Nevada. To the ‘fo of ‘sho. To the legit of no quit. To the verve of swerve and to all of the many and mighty tilted verbs that sobered up inside the written word of a Holy Day’s debauched solemnity.

From the get, The Irish Post has been a crime of passion, and guilt its best defense. The annual Drinks post has never been content with the opaque formalities of absolution, where sins are treated as commodities which can be traded for free passes to the next not so great idea. Instead it regales in the fallen angel who doesn’t give a great good shit to apologize for the sins of every day and everywhere, and everyone.

The installments of this particular series have run wild with comedy and deep with tragedy, as if the flag of Ireland was whispering its tab to the man settling its check. It has tipped the velvet, slow danced with the mysteries and kitsched up the woebegone of days well spent and nights deigned less so.

And what a glorious thing this will always be, to paint pictures of the heavens from the warm embrace of the fiery pits. To dream in colors possessed by sounds. To walk through the wildest fantasies of Joyce and Wilde and all those brilliant madmen whose pens sang acapella with the cosmos. Imagine all that, dressed up in roman numerals.

I’m guessing this year’s Irish Post will just have to make due.

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Finding Zen from the voices in my head

I learned something about myself as far as storytelling is concerned. I’m really not the natural I thought I might be at this. Being an outgoing person is one thing. Getting up on stage in front of a crowd of complete strangers and producing a coherent story with a beginning, middle and end? It’s a completely ‘nother thing.

My experiences to this point are very much in keeping with my novice rank. I’ve forgotten my place in a story. I’ve left out really good lines. I’ve rambled at times. I cut a story short simply because my nerves got the best of me. Hell, I’m hesitant to take the mic out of its stand for fear I’ll drop it. The feedback I have received has been nothing short of amazing, and I love it when someone comes up to me and hits me with a line I used, it’s great stuff. Still, I grade myself much more critically than these peeps, probably because I know my reach better than they do.

The transition from writing something down to talking something out has necessarily taken on a greater degree of emphasis for me, and in the process has given me a window into my writing. It’s an interesting, and wholly unique, vantage point.

Who knew? I discovered what makes me tick as a writer by involving myself in a creative outlet where I don’t write down a blessed thing. I haven’t written down a blessed thing in what has to be a month’s time now, and yet I’ve been writing every single day. As a person who doesn’t abide by convention, this turns me on.

Storytelling requires a great deal of practice. It also means that I spend a ton of time explaining to people why it is that I’m talking to myself more often than usual.

The idiom that “practice makes perfect” can easily be misunderstood as being emblematic of a pristine finished product when really, there’s no such thing. Practice is growth, and well, growth is scraped knees. It ascribes to the tenets of Zen: The action is your landscape, the steps taken your true goal. Basically, if you’re looking for the way? You’re there.

I had kinda taken it for granted that my ability to write was borne out of some mystical design to which I had no control. And while I do believe there is validity to the “God given” ability to plant words that grow into stories, this mindset left me wanting. A gift is a living, breathing thing. Which means to say, it requires maintenance. And so it was that I learned this rather obvious fact whilst talking out stories.

Storytelling is the ability to borrow the listener’s mind and furnish it with plush scenarios that sate their hunger. You don’t have to be crystalline in your descriptions, but you do have to be bold and decisive. It’s all right there, in that moment. Whereas writing requires an ambitious decree whose evidence takes on a patina-like quality, story telling is akin to prospecting for quicksilver.

My favorite storytellers live and die in the telling of their tale. The connection is so visceral because the potion they’re serving up is a fiery passion whose immediacy hits you upside the head and takes you to wherever it is they’re going. My favorite writers possess an innate ability to connect divinity to that which is tangible. They weave the temporal into a devoutly stitched piece of work whose union is majestic.

I love both sides of this equation.

I’m not there, on either count; not even close. I’m still stepping and plying and learning my way along. Brokering a peace with the ebbs of my writing chops and forging an alliance with the flow of my story telling. I’m in love with how perfectly imperfect the whole process truly is. Honestly, it makes me feel like a kid on the first day of school.

I can deal with that.

Slugfests, Southpaws and a Summer Wind

The historian Bruce Catton once referred to baseball as the greatest conversation piece America ever invented. While it was a critique of the game’s leisurely pace, he unwittingly pointed out one of its best qualities. Because the game is meant to be talked over, in stops and starts for its better and worse.

I recently took in an Atlantic League baseball game with my pal Gus. It was the hometown Lancaster Barnstormers against the Sugar Land Skeeters. The league is independent, which means none of its teams is affiliated with a big league squad. As far as household names go, the ‘Stormers have Lastings Milledge, an outfielder who played parts of seven seasons with the Mets, Nationals, Pirates and White Sox before opting for free agency after the 2011 season. He hasn’t seen a big league clubhouse since that day, which makes him the baseball equivalent of Tom Hanks in Castaway; holding onto a slim and distant hope. And aside from owning one of my favorite baseball names, he owns a dream that won’t let him quit the diamond just yet.

The dreams these men carry aren’t big ones. Most of them would be ecstatic to score a thirty day contract with some minor league club. Because a thirty day contract somewhere else, is somewhere closer than the last exit outposts they’re toiling away in.

I told Gus that I had a good feeling about things, because our starting pitcher was a lefty. In my humble baseball opinion, left-handed pitchers are a magical thing. Never mind that I didn’t know his name and had no blessed clue whether he could pitch worth a damn. By the time the top of the first inning had concluded, I had received my answer to the tune of a 5-o lead by the visitors.

We made our way to the concession stands and dug into some barbecue while the home team began chipping away at the lead. The game settled for a bit and we watched as our lefty pitcher battled despite the fact his curve ball wasn’t curving and his fast ball was playing around with other men. And then the Skeeters were jumping him again and so me and Gus, we changed the subject for a while.

When it comes to the company you want to keep at a baseball game, you’re not going to get much better than Gus. His conversation chases the ebb whilst paying all due respect to the flow. Sitting in the stands on a summer evening is like listening to a thousand radio songs- filled with white knuckle debate and the laughter of reminisce.

Gus is from Lafayette, Louisiana- born and raised. His vowels are clipped and his drawl goes long when he’s slow dancing with a story. I asked him about Vietnam and he talked about his brother Roger who served in the Army, Special Forces. He made it back, but a part of him never returned; like a jigsaw puzzle with a few really important pieces missing. There was Anthony, his other big brother who served in the Marines before being sent home after stepping on a land mine. While the rehab on his mangled leg was tedious and painful, Anthony was one of the lucky ones.

My pal tells stories in thickly painted vignettes whose mystic is dressed in the scenes of a long ago time. In this instance, he had delivered up suede and bell-bottoms, long hair and peace signs with a fresh vinyl feeling to that Buffalo Springfield war song.

And so a baseball evening’s worth of conversation began in Vietnam as the home team tried digging out of a 5-0 deficit. The talk moved into family as they tied it at 7 and it nestled into thoughts on religion as the teams made the scoreboard operator earn his paycheck on this night.

It was at the end of the sixth inning when Gus took his leave. He had a lovely bride of forty eight years to get home to and so I walked with him to the outfield exit before I asked him for one more baseball night before the leaves turned.

I walked down to the benches behind the outfield wall and took a seat for one more inning. Baseball might lend itself to conversation, but there is plenty of come on to be had in the silence as well. The Skeeters were clinging to a 11-9 lead in the bottom of the seventh when Beau Amaral delivered up the kind of magic our starting pitcher wasn’t able to find. He smacked a 2-2 pitch into a gaping stretch of real estate in left field that Steve Bartman would’ve appreciated. He rounded second before the left fielder could turn to pivot and he was racing home as the throw hit the third baseman’s glove on the relay, and he was sliding across home plate with an inside the park home run as the ball went sailing over the catcher’s head.

Beau Amaral has a great baseball name, and he has something many of his teammates have run out of. Time. Twenty six and fresh off a stint with the Reds Triple A club, he’s tearing up the ball to the tune of a .359 batting average with the ‘Stormers. He’s killing it for another shot at the big time, in the hopes he can catch a scout’s eye and start that most time honored of baseball things.

A conversation.

I’m a Neat Freak!: Real Neat Blog Award

Didi Oviatt recently nominated me for The Real Neat Blog Award, and I am honored to accept. Because it means I’m real and I’m neat, which are two very fine qualities to be in possession of.

As for Didi Oviatt, she’s a blogger with plenty of boom. She writes, she reviews and she presses the virtual flesh with bloggers from all around the world and back again. She does all this with a charismatic flair that has her readers begging for more. To which she always provides.

Thank you so very kindly, Ms. Oviatt, for the award; for taking the time. Both.

Now, as per the rules of my award . . I got a few questions to answer:

1. If your voice could sound like any artist, who would you want it to sound like?- This was a really difficult one, but I would have to say Mariah Carey. Reason being, I love singing her tunes in the car but I know I ain’t doing her justice. I want justice for Mariah.

2. What is your favorite recipe?- This is another really difficult one but if I HAVE to choose I am going to go with a lamb roast. For one thing, it allows me to play with some of my favorite ingredients such as garlic, thyme, rosemary and dijon. And for another, it’s a simple dish that feels elegant and I like that. I refer to it as provincial simplicity.

3. Do you have a favorite genre to read?- No. I don’t. Historical fiction . . . Maybe. But no, I really don’t. An example? Why not. I just finished reading Eben Alexander’s Proof of Heaven: A Neurosurgeon’s Journey into the Afterlife. Before that it was Shutter Island . . Killing Pablo by Mark Bowden and The Prophet (For the thousandth time . . I think). And I am currently engrossed in The Alchemist. 

4. What is your favorite movie?- Of all time? The Godfather. There are so many life lessons to be culled from this masterpiece. I could have gone with Godfather 2 because it’s probably a better movie, but my favorite will always be the original. Interestingly, my least favorite movie is Godfather 3. 

5. What did you do today to improve your future self?- Today? I didn’t murder the asshole who cut me off on the way to breakfast with my kids. Hey, it means I don’t have to get used to wearing an orange jumpsuit and catching up on my smoking habit whilst guarding my ass as if it were the Mona Lisa. Yesterday was a bit more constructive, because I spent some time with pit bulls. As far as God’s creatures go, they are severely misunderstood. I was hand feeding a pit bull yesterday, who only a couple weeks earlier was unapproachable and had been designated as “Staff Only”. As a volunteer, I still can’t walk Maximus, but thanks to some wonderful people who’ve been working with him, I learned the color of his beautiful eyes- hazel with a touch of vermilion. And now he doesn’t bark at me, and now he doesn’t charge. Now, we just sit together. These people reached him with patience and love and understanding, and I became the lucky recipient of their dedication. It is in these small victories where I find God.

As to who I nominate for the Neat Blogger Award?

Every single blogger who visits this place. I know, it’s not exactly in keeping with the rules, but I won’t choose. Because I am thankful for each and every one of you. To take the time from your busy day to venture over here, it’s more appreciated than you know. You make this blog what it is- a neat place to come to. Without you . . . there’s no Cayman Thorn.

To peace and love, and to you.

 

 

 

Sunday Morning Coffee Love

I thought I could write on anything, until it occurred to me this year that I cannot. It was a mysterious development, and one I was not used to. Until I delved further and studied its roots more deliberately, just the other day. Then, it made sense- an infinite amount of the stuff.

In this instance, I speak of politics. Of a topic that was always ‘on demand’ simple in my brain. Until last November, when it turned my creative juices on the topic into a hazy shade of winter. And maybe this sounds crazy, but I can’t bring myself to write on the happenings since November changed the world we’re living in.

Perhaps I should make excuses. Like, “Hey, you can’t satirize satire.”, or “Why parody the parody?”. And I have done that, made excuses. But I shouldn’t be making excuses. I should accept what’s happened to this particular part of my brain and just wait it out. Because I know, full well, that there will come a day when the dam will burst and the words will come pouring out and then all those excuses will seem like elegant sounding absurdities.

So yes, I have learned I cannot write on just anything, at any time, as I damn well please. I have come to understand that there are some things to which I have no answer. And you know something? Good. Because it tempers me, humbles me, teaches me. About the writer I am and the process I choose and the treacherous path that begins with a blank white sheet.

The ability to convey your thoughts into some better sounding thing is a gift, and maybe I forgot that. Maybe I was taking it for granted. I don’t know. What I do know is that I am grateful. To be a writer. To know what writing means to me. And I am eternally thankful to one writer in particular. My favorite one. Because I talked this out with her the other day, and she listened. As only she can do. And her thoughts on the matter behaved as a salve to my senses.

She’s something I could write on. All day long. Which is why I’m plenty fine with throwing any political diatribes in the rear view, for now. Because I have a topic on which I can spin tales from here to the moon and back. And it matters more than all the other things I could write on.

It reminds me of a poem by Pablo Neruda . . . .

You can crush the flowers, but you can’t stop the spring. 

My political flavor has indeed wilted, and while it hasn’t died . . it has been crushed in the cycle of stupid that perpetuates our trending news. And she lets me know it’s a ‘so what’ proposition. Because there’s plenty ’nuff to write on. Like the spring time I feel in the ways of a girl who put a spell on me. So there.

Here’s to you, Cat Woman. I love your purr and your poetry, your rhythm and your rhyme. I love the way you make my world feel, just by being in the grand ballroom of my existence.

Like that.

 

When you come to the fork in the road? Eat.

As most of you who read this outpost of a blog are well aware, I do so enjoy being an envoy for the absurdities that define our doomed existence. I dabble in all manner of trouble. So you don’t have to.

And . . . you’re welcome.

So it was that this afternoon, I was having a legit conversation as per my latest storytelling idea with a dude who used to do Summer Stock, all over the map. Richard is sixty-ish, semi-retired and he lives in a condo. He’s also fairly ambivalent when it comes to his live-in girlfriend. The dude is loose threads in the cosmic sense, but he’s why I love actors. Because they jump first and ask the more pertinent questions later on.

“I’m going with my undertow story.” I say.

It takes a few moments for words to catch up with what’s left of his cerebral cortex- which no doubt resembles a taco stand. But when he finally gets around to collating, it’s Climax Blues Band on methamphetamine sprinkled chalupas. Which means, it’s delicious sounding shit.

“Oh shit yeah that’s a funny story! The waving? Priceless. You have to go with that one. Shit yeah!”

If I had a dollar for every time Richard says “Shit, yeah.”, I would own the New York Yankees, have PSL’s to Golden State Warriors games and Oprah would be on speed dial. Richard may speak in clipped appraisals, but when he throws a Hallelujah at you, it’s as if you just watched Jesus in a fist fight.

From there, I go long form with him. I spill a few loose thought ideas so’s he can reduce the elements whilst identifying the cutting room floor material. Dude has a sixth sense about these things. He’s a modern day proverb dressed in stage lights. I love the systemic advancement he uses in order to shelter the wild nature of feral thoughts.

The moments are so very elegant and purposed, and then Sesame Street goes drive by on my ass.

“What are you talking about?”

It’s Danielle. She’s all of twenty one and her interests include Instagram, breaking up with boyfriends, Snap-chat, breaking up with boyfriends and Taco Bell. I’m sure there’s more where that came from, but really . . that’s enough.

“My story.”

“For what?”

“Story Slam.”

“Oh my Gawd! Your video was soooo funny. Is that like stand up?”

I explain to her what storytelling is all about as if I was a human GIF, because that’s the language she speaks. While I’m attempting to send her on her way, she asks if I heard the news about Linkin Park front man Chester Bennington.

“Yes, he committed suicide.”

Richard chimes in with, “Strange day, Chester Bennington hangs himself and O.J. Simpson gets cut loose.” The man has a chime to his rhyme, tell you what.

“Who’s O.J.?” Danielle asks.

Not that long ago, this was a two syllable trivial pursuit question with one hell of a racial slip-switch. (Not that long ago? Meet a million years ago. And even though the two of you have absolutely nothing in common, go have sex. And make babies that ask questions like this.)

“Simpson.” I replied. “O.J. Simpson.”

Her hesitation was a notarized reminder of how quickly time flies. And it signaled my removal from this Bermuda Triangle of crimes and misdemeanors. Hey man, I can run five miles on a ninety five degree afternoon, but I just don’t have the patience for this. It’s fucking exhausting.

“Go with that undertow story, Marc.” Richard winked.

The universe came calling, and it was dressed in a ponytail with yellow colored shades and a forever sounding reminisce of big mistakes dressed in fine solutions.

I winked back.

The aFrank Angle Challenge- Day Late/Dollar Short Edition!

Okay, so Frank over at aFrank Angle gave his readers a challenge.  Or in WordPress parlance (?) a ‘prompt’. He supplied an image, which I have included below and he asked his readers to create a fictional piece out of it. In 150 words or less.

Truthfully, I haven’t done a ‘prompt’ in ages. But hey, if our President can settle the country’s business in 150 characters or less, I think I can handle a fiction challenge.

I realize this entry will not be considered by the Academy due to the late nature of its submission. Ironic that I’m calling it a ‘prompt’, huh?

 

 

 

 

 

            Footprints in the Sand – by Cayman Thorn

Taylor’s feet scalloped the minute shards of ocean glass into small indentations whose evidence was being stolen with each musical sway of the tides. His roam transformed inside the short walk- from confusion to recognition, and finally to a seething rage.

He dropped to his knees at the sight of the oxidized wreckage whose spires fought the darkness but whose symbolism had long since been stolen away in the name of a manifest power whose intention had never been to serve better angels.

“Trump did it . . he finally, really did it. You maniac! You blew it up! God damn you!” He screamed, as if his lungs could reach the wicked depths and all those long lost souls.

Nova gripped the reins of their horse and stared silently into the face of a murdered ideal, whose body was being interred by the fates.

They had reached the end of the world.

(Muchisimas gracias to Frank for allowing me to stay after school and finish this assignment. The link to his challenge is below just in case you didn’t click on my hyper-link up top.)

https://afrankangle.wordpress.com/2017/07/10/on-footprints-in-the-sand/